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Ayn Rand's 'Rugged Individual' Gets Back Seat

Author/philosopher Ayn Rand argued we all should strive to become   "rugged individuals" and entrepreneurs, but Bruce Piasecki, author of Doing More With Teams: The New Way to Winning has another view.

He believes the business world must acknowledge the truth behind Aristotle's quote "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' In other words, the near future will be all about innovation for sustainable value creation, led by teams.

          "In a world that becomes more complex by the day, 'command and control' is out, and employee engagement is in," says Piasecki." The days when a larger-than-life personality is allowed to steamroll over the rest of the company are over. This destroys morale, which destroys results. Teams, not individuals, drive performance.

          "And make no mistake," he adds. "The best organizations, the ones with real staying power, are fueled by well-run teams.

Following are some of Piasecki's insights on teams:

Great teams are led by captains. Like many popular terms, the word "leader" has become so overused and commonplace that it has lost all meaning. Anybody can call himself or herself a leader, it seems. Anybody can follow the "dos" and "don'ts" in leadership manuals. But it takes a special type of leader-a captain-to create not just a loose affiliation of individuals but a true team that's centered on shared values and focused on a common goal.

Fierce individualism has no place in teams. Captains need to be sure that "the MVP syndrome" is not allowed to define their teams and be on the alert for individuals who might be losing sight of the team that gave them an identity-the group with whom they worked to produce the fame for which they are now known. It is in such situations that workplace ills such as favoritism, sexism, and even criminal activity like embezzlement tend to flourish.

Teams hold the bar high for everyone (especially the superstars). In all teams there is an inherent desire to protect our superstars and keep them winning. (Never mind all the others whose quieter, though no less critical, contributions are downplayed.)
Teams have to be willing to lose sometimes or they will eventually self-destruct. When teams keep winning, they can become addicted to victory-feel entitled to it even-and this is what drives them to illicit extremes. The lesson is clear: When we don't learn to tolerate failure, we will do anything to keep the public adulation coming.
Great teams revel in the pleasure of persistence and the sheer thrill of striving. Knowing that we will stumble and fall from time to time, yet get up and try again with some success, is at the heart of a great team.

Successful teams share values, integrity, and a commitment to one another. In preparing for a team event, or in becoming a member of a team, a transformation occurs where team members end their individual associations and create a team identity through sharing with others the experience of that process. Once the team is created, a strong bond is already in place from that preparation, from the obstacles everyone had to

Effective teams take risks. Because business climates are constantly changing, teams and the captains who lead them know that yesterday's guidelines can quickly become obsolete. That's why they don't allow themselves to be overly bogged down by rule following and order taking. Rather, they push boundaries when it's proper (in other words, when ethical and moral lines aren't being crossed), because the greatest innovations happen beyond existing laws and rules. When led by great captains, teams regularly work beyond normal and limiting boundaries to increase productivity and success.

          "The word 'team' is more than just a business buzzword," Piasecki concludes. "If done well, building and captaining a team will determine whether you merely survive or instead thrive in this strange new economy."
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